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Congressman Tim Ryan Calls for Expanding Unemployment Insurance to Cover 100% of Lost Wages and Extension of Benefits to Low-Wage, Part-Time Workers

March 21, 2020
Press Release

Youngstown, Ohio – In response to the coronavirus pandemic’s damage to the American job market, Congressman Tim Ryan is calling for an immediate expansion of the Federal government’s contribution to unemployment insurance to allow for expanded benefits. Such an expansion will be critical to helping the many laid off workers, especially those in the retail and restaurant industry who have been particularly hard hit by ordered closures and social distancing measures. 

“We have to put workers first and get more money into the economy. In this time of national crisis, American workers impacted by this crisis should be made whole by ensuring all workers qualify for unemployment benefits and those benefits cover 100 percent of lost wages until the job market has rebounded,” said Congressman Ryan

“Restaurants are on the front line of this global health crisis, continuing to feed our communities through carry-out, drive-thru and delivery. Restaurant owners and operators care deeply about everyone in our industry, and we are fighting every day for the greatest possible relief for workers who are displaced by this pandemic, and we certainly believe that there should not be a wage floor for unemployment eligibility. We will get through this together and come out stronger on the other side,” said John Barker, President and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association.

Most states only make up a portion of the wages of a laid off worker. For example, Ohio’s unemployment covers approximately 50% of a laid off workers’ lost wages and lower-wage workers who don’t work enough hours may not even qualify for unemployment benefits. Congressman Ryan is pushing his colleagues in Congress to allow the federal government to “top-up” what state unemployment provides so workers receive 100% of their prior wages and remove the minimum wage threshold that prevents low wage workers from qualifying for unemployment benefits. 

As the pandemic continues to worsen, Americans are being laid off or seeing significant reductions in their hours. Recent reports have shown a steep increase in unemployment claims of more than 70,000 from last week to this week.